Cats play host to top-ranked Dores

A.J. Reed

For the third consecutive year, Kentucky and Vanderbilt will square off in a weekend baseball series in which one of the clubs entered as the No. 1 team in the country.

For the third consecutive year, Kentucky and Vanderbilt will square off in a weekend baseball series in which one of the clubs entered as the No. 1 team in the country.

The Wildcats (28-19, 10-14 SEC) play host to the top-ranked Commodores beginning Friday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium with a huge opportunity to build momentum and bolster their postseason resume. UK suffered through a mid-season skid which saw it drop 10 of 11 games, but appears to have gotten back on track with a series win over Ole Miss and back to back wins over No. 14 Arkansas and Wright State in their last two times on the diamond.

Vanderbilt (42-6, 21-2 SEC) owns best the eight-week record in league history. The Commodores lead the SEC with a .315 team batting average and rank 13th nationally in runs scored, plating more than seven per game. They also rank seventh nationally with a 2.52 team ERA.

The Commodores are led by All-America junior second baseman Tony Kemp, who is hitting .391 with 11 doubles, five triples, 25 RBI and 25 steals. Senior outfielder Connor Harrell is hitting .317 with a league-high 53 RBI. Senior outfielder Mike Yastrzemski (.333, 33 RBI) and sophomore third baseman Vince Conde (.322, 35 RBI) are also important cogs in VU's potent offense.

The Wildcats will counter with a weekend rotation of sophomore left-hander A.J. Reed (2-6, 2.84 ERA) on Friday, freshman right-hander Kyle Cody (3-2, 4.86 ERA) on Saturday and junior southpaw Corey Littrell (5-4, 3.46 ERA) on Sunday.

Reed also leads the UK lineup with a .295 average, 11 home runs and 48 RBI, but the Wildcats have struggled at the plate with a .256 team average.

Vanderbilt sends two of the top starters in college baseball on Friday and Saturday in junior left-hander Kevin Ziomek (9-2, 2.03 ERA) and sophomore right-hander Tyler Beede (12-0, 1.73 ERA). Junior right-hander T.J. Pecoraro (3-1, 3.38) is slated to pitch the Sunday finale.

Talent will be abundant on both rosters. Vanderbilt (18) and Kentucky (15) have the most drafted players on their 2013 rosters in the NCAA.

Game 1 is slated for 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday. It will be broadcast live on CSS and ESPN3.com.

Schedule (ET subject to change) -- Lexington, Ky.
Friday, May 10 * vs. No. 1 Vanderbilt * 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 11 * vs. No. 1 Vanderbilt * 7 p.m. (CSS)
Sunday, May 12 * vs. No. 1 Vanderbilt * 1 p.m. (Fox Sports South/CWKYT-TV/WYMO-TV)

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